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Coronavirus warning for people from black and minority backgrounds as NHS data suggests they are at more risk of life-threatening complications – Surveillance Ghana
Global 360

Coronavirus warning for people from black and minority backgrounds as NHS data suggests they are at more risk of life-threatening complications

3 Mins read

Coronavirus patients from black and ethnic minority backgrounds may be at higher risk of suffering deadly complications of the disease, an NHS report suggests.

Despite making up just 13 per cent of the UK population, a third of patients who fall critically ill with COVID-19 are from black, Asian or minority ethnic (BME) groups.

The report, by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre, found 14 per cent were Asian, 14 per cent black and 7 per cent described themselves as other.

The study of 2,249 patients has raised fears non-white communities could suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths during the pandemic.

Members of ethnic minority communities are twice as likely to be affected by poverty, and are often hit the hardest by disease’.

Coronavirus patients from black and ethnic minority backgrounds may be at higher risk of suffering deadly complications of the disease, an NHS report suggests
Coronavirus patients from black and ethnic minority backgrounds may be at higher risk of suffering deadly complications of the disease, an NHS report suggests

Those living in poverty smoke and drink alcohol more and are more likely to be obese – all of which increase the likelihood of chronic health conditions.

Patients with pre-existing health troubles struggle to fight off COVID-19 before it causes deadly complications such as pneumonia.

Poor people are also more likely to use public transport more often and live in crowded houses – driving up their chance of catching and spreading the virus.

Anecdotal evidence has also suggested that ethnic minorities are more likely to fall seriously ill with the coronavirus.

Professors Kamlesh Khunti and Wasim Hanif, from the charity South Asian Health Foundation (SAHF), say doctors have been reporting a disproportionate number of South Asian patients in ICU.

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Khunti, a professor in primary care diabetes and vascular medicine at the University of Leicester, said: ‘We have been concerned about this issue based on anecdotal reports and now this data is showing a signal regarding what we have been saying.

‘This is a signal but at this stage, that’s all it is. We now need more data, so we are therefore embarking on a mission to learn more through research.’

Two-thirds of coronavirus patients in the UK who need to be hooked up to a ventilator will die from the illness, official NHS data suggests. Graph also shows the likelihood of critically ill COVID-19 patients surviving based on their age, BMI and whether they have health woes

Two-thirds of coronavirus patients in the UK who need to be hooked up to a ventilator will die from the illness, official NHS data suggests. Graph also shows the likelihood of critically ill COVID-19 patients surviving based on their age, BMI and whether they have health woes

Fears there will be a disproportionate number of ethnic minorities suffering deadly symptoms of coronavirus are also being echoed in the US.

Dr Ashwin Vasan, a public health expert and assistant professor at Columbia University in New York City, said the virus was going to be felt most ‘by the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalized, and obviously that falls down in this country on communities of color.’

Dr Vasan told USA Today it wasn’t that minorities are more vulnerable to getting the virus, but they are more susceptible to suffering severe consequences which can kill them.

He said in blacks, Latinos and Native American suffer from the very diseases that COVID-19 presents a problem for and have less access to healthcare.

People of color could also be more at risk because of their professions, according to Shaomeng Jia, an economics professor at Alabama State University’s College of Business Administration.

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Those working in retail and construction – who cannot work from home – are still mingling and risking infection even as the outbreak peaks, she said.

Meanwhile, health care jobs, including personal care aides and practitioners, are among the top 10 jobs with a high concentration of African Americans, she told USA Today.

The ICNARC report came from data reported into the Case Mix Programme.  This programme represents all NHS adult, general intensive care and combined intensive care, high dependency units in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as some specialist and non-NHS critical care units.

At the time of the last census in 2011, 13 per cent of the UK population, equivalent to around 8.1 million people, identified themselves as black, Asian or minority ethnic.

Meanwhile official NHS data suggests two-thirds of coronavirus patients in the UK who need to be hooked up to a ventilator will die from the illness.

A separate report by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Center (ICNARC) found ventilated patients succumb to the virus 66.3 per cent of the time.

That is double the mortality rate of non-virus patients who were put on breathing support between 2017 and 2019, before the outbreak.

The NHS is still 22,000 ventilators short of the estimated 30,000 it will need during the peak of this crisis, which has infected almost 34,000 Britons.

The high death rate has led some doctors to question whether some critically ill COVID-19 patients are being put on ventilation ‘for the sake of it’, when the machine could be spared for a healthy person with a higher chance of survival.

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